Good oral hygiene could save your child from a mouthful of cavities—and a lifetime of tooth and gum problems. But toddler toothbrushing isn’t always easy, since tots often resist having objects stuck in their mouths. Here’s how to up the fun factor:
Toddler toothbrushing tips
Sing a song
Music can be a great distraction, says Warren A. Brill, DMD, MS, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Adapt “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to this: “Brush, brush, brush your teeth. Get them nice and clean! Gotta make them pearly white so they shine and gleam!”
Pick a special brush
Letting your toddler choose his own toothbrush is a great way to pique his interest, advises Edward H. Moody, Jr., DDS, vice president of the AAPD. A battery-operated brush that lights up, plays music or features his favorite cartoon character could be just the inspiration he needs to make toddler toothbrushing easier for everyone. Check out the Firefly Ready Go Brush ($3.50 at fireflytoothbrush.com) or the Brush Buddies Poppin toothbrushes ($5 at Target or brushbuddies.com).
Offer an incentive
Reward a toddler toothbrushing job well done with a sticker. As he gets older, make a chart and let him to work toward a special prize, like a new book, Brill says.
Use a timer
Set it for two minutes and challenge your tot to brush until the sound of the beep.
“Children want to be like their parents, and allowing them to see that you’re taking care of your teeth encourages them to do the same,” Moody says. Just be sure that you take a turn in your tot’s mouth, too. “Even though toddlers want to do a good job by themselves, they still lack the motor skills necessary to properly brush on their own,” Moody adds.